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Looking for inspiration on office recycling and waste?

Traditionally, every desk in an office had a bin underneath – which was great for the user, but very labour-intensive for the cleaning team, very wasteful on plastic bags and encouraged poor recycling.  But today, with the rise of agile workspaces and, more importantly, the increasing demand for recycling, things aren’t quite that simple.  So the question of how many bins you should have, and where they should go, keeps popping up.  So what is the answer?In short, it depends.  Every office environment is different, and it’s impossible to come with a one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are some ‘rules of thumb’ which may come in handy…


  1. Nobody should be more than 10-15 steps away from a recycling point.
  2. One recycling station should serve about 30-35 people.

Remember that these are only guidelines, but this can be a great place to start.

Other things to consider are:

#1 – Waste type & volume – Each office is different, and creates different amounts of different types of waste.  Some offices have coffee machines or water coolers with single-use cups, some supply all their staff with re-usable cups and bottles.  Some offices are almost completely paperless, some still process a lot of paperwork.  Analyse the volume of each waste stream you produce and this will help you to figure out how many bins you need and what waste streams you need to prioritise – you may need more bins for some waste streams than for others.


#2 – The space available – We’ve talked before about why you should include recycling in your office designs.  If you’re redesigning an old office or building a new one, be sure to incorporate space for bins into your design.  However, if you’re retro-fitting recycling points to your office, then this can be one of the biggest factors in deciding how many bins go into your office, as many offices are simply limited by space and where recycling stations can conveniently be fitted.

Samsung - MultiBin 4 Recycling Station d_crop

If in doubt, try it out.

The only way you can really find out how many bins you need is to try it.  Make your best guess and test it out.  If staff are engaged in recycling, great!  If not, try moving the bins or adding more bins until you get it right.

Have you got any favourite tricks for engaging staff in recycling?  Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear them!